In gymnastics, the 10.0 is a coveted score and a rarely achieved
statement of perfection. So how do you compete against a team that
notches not one, or two, but three 10.0 scores during the same

The Michigan women’s gymnastics team — which
struggled through and lost its last two meets — had to ask
itself this question yesterday night, when it lost to No. 1 UCLA in
Los Angeles by a large margin, 198.325-195.725.

“Our goal was to try to put a meet together on the road so
that we could come home with a good away score to help with our
regional qualifications,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve that goal.”

Michigan began on bars, where senior co-captain Elise Ray led
the Wolverines with a 9.950 score, tying her season-high mark from
last week against Georgia. She performed last, after senior Calli
Ryals fell during her routine. Ryals suffered a strain two weeks
ago at West Virginia and was not quite back to all-around strength
yesterday, competing in three of four events. Injuries have kept
the Wolverines from having a lineup at full strength throughout the
2004 season. This began with injuries to Lauren Mirkovich and
sophomore all-arounder Jenny Deiley.

“Early in the season, I think it was a factor,”
Plocki said. “Injuries have absolutely nothing to do with our
performance tonight. We can’t fall back on injuries because
compared to a lot of other teams, we’re healthy right

Following a 49.100 score on bars, things got worse for the
Wolverines when they moved to vault. After a 9.800 performance on
bars, standout freshman Lindsay Bruck miscalculated on her vault
and sat down on the landing. Because fellow freshman Clare Flannery
also fell on her landing, Michigan had to count a fall, making it
the lowest-scoring event of the meet for the Wolverines.

“If there’s a theme (to our problems), I
haven’t figured it out,” Plocki said. “It’s
disheartening. This group has an enormous amount of talent, but
when half put it together, the other half doesn’t.”

Two events into the meet, Michigan found itself trailing UCLA by
1.5 points. UCLA opened on vault, where senior Jeanette Antolin
scored her fifth consecutive 10.0. The Bruins also had a 10.0 score
on bars. On vault, bars and balance beam, UCLA is ranked No. 1 in
the country.

The miscues continued for Michigan on the floor exercise. Becca
Clauson’s 9.900 was the top score on the event for the
Wolverines. Usual leaders Ray and Ryals stepped out of bounds and
fell, respectively. Deiley, competing in the floor exercise for the
first time since her ankle injury early in the season, posted just
a 9.650 after stepping out of bounds during her routine.

“Becca Clauson had a great meet,” Plocki said.
“She did very well on all three events. I thought her vault
was better than the score reflected.

“It’s not that we go through meets without any
positives. We have positives that I could point to from every meet.
The bottom line is if we’re counting mistakes or counting
falls the team is not going to succeed.”

The Wolverines finished on beam, which was their best event of
the evening. Ray tied for first on the event with a 9.950 and
finished fourth overall. Ryals recovered from her fall on floor to
post a 9.875, her personal-best in the meet. Solid support from
Bruck, Deiley and Clauson brought Michigan’s score to 49.275,
but it wasn’t enough to beat the Bruins.

UCLA stuck on beam and on floor — where it earned a third
10.0 score — to clinch the victory. UCLA’s composite
score was its second best of the season, behind the Bruins’
NCAA record-tying score of 198.875 against Oregon State.

“This was their senior night and there were a lot of
emotions,” Plocki said. “You can’t take anything
away from a team that is going to go out there and hit their
performances. UCLA is a fantastic team.”

Michigan, however, has not been hitting routines in the way that
Plocki desires.

“It’s very frustrating from a coaching
standpoint,” Plocki said. “What we need to do to get
this ship on the right path. It’s hard for us because
we’re not really quite sure how to fix it.”

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